Managing the real-time challenge: where are brands struggling?

What is real-time marketing about? Responding to customers, following trends and ultimately creating a strong, relevant relationship with your audience. It doesn’t sound so bad when you sum it up like that. But real-time marketing is easier said than done.

Our research report ‘In the Social Moment’ demonstrates that real-time social requires investment. It is time and resource heavy. Those that took part in the survey were from recognisable brands. And their candid responses revealed that red tape and the sheer volume of processes (in everyday management, technology and people) is stifling opportunities and creativity. It highlights the fact that brands are struggling to bring real-time in-house.

1.     Managing social out of office hours

The report shows that the overarching challenge faced by brands (62%) is managing social engagement out of hours. Social media is not constrained by traditional office hours, so staff need the opportunity to be flexible. This requires trust; particularly as 31% of brands said that getting sign off on social posts was a challenge. This simply doesn’t work in real-time. Staff working on the ground need to be properly trained to react to a real-time opportunity in the moment, and to deliver engaging content without seeking approval.

2.     Social requires skilled resource

A second key issue highlighted in the report is that real-time social requires skilled resource. Staff with significant experience, and a range of skills. And yet 45% of brands claimed that they could not source the right people with the right skills to manage real-time social. Particularly when creating content, which 38% struggle with.

Still, having the right people and skills in-house is no use if you are not able to monitor social conversations and trending topics. It’s fundamental. But 51% of brands say that getting real-time insight is a serious challenge. Hardly surprising, when you read through the stats and discover that only 27% think that using monitoring tools is best practice. But for those brands monitoring social, tools can be another challenge entirely. Data is sourced from both free and paid services, creating a mammoth task when it comes to collating data for accurate reporting.

3.     Mitigating audience backlash

Despite these operational issues, research revealed a mere 13% of brands think the biggest real-time challenge is in mitigating an audience backlash. Interesting, given the increasing number of recent examples of brands that have misjudged audience opinion, such as Coca-Cola at Sochi Olympics!

So what’s the solution?

In most cases, these challenges can be solved with more training and resource. But to achieve this, brands will first need to prove the value of real-time social in a way that affects the bottom line for the board; otherwise it is difficult to justify any investment in social. Measurement is the priority for all brands that want to prove social ROI. And it will make real-time more manageable, and quicker!

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